Ashes to Ashes

A portion of my dad’s cremains arrived in the mail today. My aunt (in Alaska) mailed them to me in a tupperware container. Several thoughts (a few which seem absurd) crossed my mind as I opened the mailing box to see if there was a letter or anything inside as well. (There was – a small paper origami crane, not sure why.)

Did the post office or any of the mail carriers that handled the package know what was inside? Did my aunt need to get some kind of clearance to ship human cremains? Will I need to deal with explaining what’s in the box at the airport when we fly back to Alaska next weekend? (That’s right, mailed from Alaska to be taken back to Alaska. I know it sounds odd, but it was the easiest way to make sure they get to where they need to go.) I was also reminded of a line from the “Tupperware Song” by The Rock Bottom Remainders. Basically it goes: “I hope that when I die, tupperware makes caskets too.” I guess, in a way, the do.

Anyway, I’ve sealed the box back up and it’s sitting on our kitchen table. I don’t know what else to do with it right now.

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Robert Belknap has been writing online sporadically since 2001. See the colophon for more details.

12 thoughts on “Ashes to Ashes”

  1. One sister has some of my mom’s ashes in a little box shaped like a frog (my mom’s favorite critter) and the other has them in a clear glass bottle. I elected not to have any of the ashes, altho if I’d wanted some, they were in plain view at the beach even 2 months after they’d been put there. Kinda wierd, looking down at the plant life and seeing smatterings of gray ash, and thinking, “That’s mom.”

    Betcha Eric knows the rules and regs for transporting human remains

  2. Btcha he would, can you ask him for me, or have him call me if I need to do anything special regarding taking them on a plane (and through airport security)?

  3. Sure…he’s got class ti’ 9:30 tonight tho, so it’ll be late if he calls…are you up that late??? Or should I wait for tomorrow?

    He said he’d call you if his class has a break…something about you needing a permit…

    Edited on Sep 24th 2003, 01:55 by frostedlexicharm

  4. for the rest of us, -do- you have to do anything special while transporting ashes? It never would have occured to me to wonder.

  5. Finally made the call. There shouldn’t be any permit or paperwork needed for transport of cremains (that’s the technical term for cremated remains, or the contraction, or something). Generally when there is some kind of internment being done at a cemetary or if the scattering is done by a business there is paperwork for the (disposal is not the right word, but it’s some other one like it) of the remains. Anyhow, as you said it was going to be a private-like thing, there will be no need for any paperwork etc to do what you intend.
    I hope that all came out sounding right.

  6. You might need some explaining when you go through security – the contents of your box will appear strange on x-ray. We had to explain when we transported my grandfather’s remains back to New York.

  7. I was concerned about that, but I’ve been through security with the package in my bag twice, and didn’t even get asked about it.

  8. Don’t take peanut butter through an xray scanner at the airport. It looks like plastique explosives. (My cousin works for TSA and mentioned that…)

  9. Well I didn’t have any trouble transporting the ashes to Alaska in my carry-on. Nor did I have troble transporting a smaller container of ashes back to California.

    I wish someone had told me about the peanut butter sooner… I would have made sure to pack some on the way home to give the TSA folks something to do.

    cracks a wicked grin.

  10. Hool, as my cousin works for TSA, I will put in a service announcement–they are not paid to think. My cousin is a thinking kind of guy, but thinking will get him fired. See?

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